Durban High Court gives KZN soccer academy the go-ahead

By SIBONISO MNGADI Time of article published Feb 10, 2020

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Durban - The construction of a soccer academy will soon get under way following a victory against Newmarket Stables in the Durban High Court this week, while traders at the popular flea market would have to look for another home.

The court ruled in favour of eThekwini Municipality against Newmarket Stables management over the occupation of the Kings Park precinct site.

The site had been used by stall- holders and Newmarket Stables management for trading, and has been heavily contested in court in the past five years.

Newmarket Stables took the matter to court when the city gave the site to Hoy Park, to build a first-of-its-kind soccer academy with the provincial government and SA Football Association.

However, the management of Newmarket Stables argued in court that they had a long-term lease with the municipality and refused to move.

The project ground to a halt. This week, the high court dismissed the objection with costs and handed an eviction order to the stables.

They were expected to vacate the site by March 31 to allow for development.

Children practise their skills at the site of the KwaZulu-Natal Football Academy. Picture: Bongani Mbatha African News Agency (ANA)

Carlos Catalino, managing director of Hoy Park, said he had been vindicated by the court ruling.

“For us, we are extremely happy because the judge exposed the truth we have been telling everyone for the last five years,” he said.

“This is a milestone for the province and the football fraternity.

“It is shameful that someone sat on the municipal property claiming that he had a lease agreement, when there was no such thing. This hindered the academy for five years.

“We have wasted five years in which we could have done so much.

“We have lost certain investors during this period, we have had to do a lot of things to keep the project running.”

Catalino was proud of the achievement under the “difficult” period, adding that they have managed to send young players to Europe to “greener pastures”.

He said once the development was completed, they would be able to reach out to many young boys across the province to nurture their talent and unlock their potential.

He said the project would bring a much-needed change in football while creating thousands of job opportunities.

“Apart from football, this will create jobs, not only in the construction phase but also, after the academy has been built, in every department from catering to maintenance, security, to cleaning services, there will be opportunities,” he said.

Catalino said they were ready to begin with the construction once the plans returned from the municipality.

“Everything is done, the plans have been submitted to the municipality.

“Our biggest challenge was that we were not able to do the work, such as the demolition, since we had people on the property.

“As soon as we have the people out of the property, we can start immediately.

“We also appreciate the support we got from our stakeholders.

“Everyone has a home, now football will have a home in this province,” he added.

A sign notifies passers-by that although it doesn’t yet exist, this is the site for the future KwaZulu-Natal Football Academy. Bongani Mbatha African News Agency (ANA)

Marc Hardford, member of the Newmarket Stables, said they were very disappointed at the court ruling.

He said about 200 people who used the location to trade have lost their source of income.

Regarding their next move, Hardford said they were in negotiations with the municipality to find another suitable space for the flea market.

He said they were still exploring legal advice on whether to appeal the court’s decision or not.

Sunday Tribune

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